This New Year’s Eve, we were invited to a small dinner party. I decided that I wanted to make some sort of appetizer and when I heard that they were serving Thai food, I decided to try my hand at steamed dumplings which I have never made before. Another challenge, was that there were two vegetarian guests.
I decided to make a shitake mushroom wonton.
There was yet another challenge or roadblock, rather….to beginning my wonton experiment: I DO NOT OWN A BAMBOO STEAMER! If it were a regular day, I would have gone to Crate and Barrel or some food store and bought one, but it was NYE and nothing was open except the supermarket.
I got crafty…I went to the supermarket and bought a metal “splatter” guard. It’s flat and has small holes so the steam would be able to rise through it. I also bought some parchment paper to gently rest my delicate wontons on. I decided to rest the splatter guard on top of a pan with some water in it and then cover it with another pan since I do not have anything high enough to cover the pan with (I know, I need better pots and pans and I hope to get some soon).
Here are step by step pictures of the process:
Step 1: Soak the dried shitake mushrooms for 20 minutes in luke warm water.
Step 2: Prepare the filling.
I began the filling mixture while the mushrooms were soaking. I added some bamboo shoots and water chestnuts to the food processor and put aside in a bowl.
Step 3: Add flavor!
To the mixture, I added a squeeze of pureed ginger, about 1 tablespoon of soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of sesame seed oil.
Step 4: Add the mushroom!
I know, not very appetizing looking right???? But it smelled so good at this point, words cannot describe! After soaking the shitake mushrooms, remove the excess water and stems. I added them to the food processor to make them consistent in size to the other things in the mixture.
Step 5: Make the wontons!
These are pre-made wonton wrappers. I have used them before as ravioli and I have to say that they are extremely convenient. After you spoon a bit of the mixture on, you add some water to the edges of the wrapper and fold it in half in a triangle shape. Afterwards, you can fold it again. I like to take the two tips and make little envelope shapes.
Step 6: Prepare to steam!!!
Here are my little soldiers of shitake wontons ready for steaming. You can sort of see the mesh splatter guard underneath the parchment.
Steam the wontons for 17 minutes. The package said to steak for 15, but I found the tip of my wontons were still a little hard…so the next batch I made I left in in a few minutes longer and they were nice and soft.
Step 7: They’re ready….so be gentle.
I found that the easiest way to remove the steamed wonton/dumplings are to remove them while they’re still on the steamer (with the heat off). The excess moisture allows them to come off the parchment paper easier and lessens the chances of breaking the noodle. They’re very sticky, so be slow and gentle.
Step 8: Arrange them and top them off.
I added some sesame seeds and green onion (not in the picture) to the wontons. I also made a spicy dipping sauce from: Soy Sauce, Sesame Oil, Chili Paste, Hot Mustard and Rice Wine Vinegar. I would give you guys the exact measurements, but there were none…Note: Soy Sauce is the base to this sauce, so you would need to put a lot more than the rest. Adding the spicy components to this sauce depends on how much spice/heat you like. For those who don’t like spicy sauces, you can also use Plum Sauce which is already made and sold in your supermarket.
Additionally for presentation, you can lay your little steamed pockets of goodness on a fresh bed of lettuce like they do in a lot of NYC’s Chinatown restaurants (oh how I miss them).
All in all, the guests loved them and they lasted about 10 minutes. I should have made more…oh well, maybe next time!